HONG KONG: Hong Kong will roll out booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from next week, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Wednesday (Nov 3), as authorities ramp up efforts to convince Beijing to allow cross-border travel to mainland China.
The vaccination campaign in the global financial hub has lagged behind those in many other developed economies, with about 65 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated with shots from either China's Sinovac, or Germany's BioNTech.
About 85 per cent of those older than 80 in the Chinese-ruled city of 7.5 million have not been vaccinated.
The elderly will get priority for the booster shots, along with health workers, cross-border truck drivers and others in categories deemed to be at higher risk of getting the disease.
About 1.86 million people are eligible for the booster, which they can start booking from Nov 5, to receive it as soon as Nov 11.
"The elderly are the most fragile group and we have a responsibility to protect their health," Chan said.
Hong Kong is following Beijing's lead in retaining strict travel curbs, in contrast to a global trend of opening up and living with the coronavirus.
International business lobby groups have warned that Hong Kong could lose talent and investment, as well as competitive ground to rival finance hubs such as Singapore, unless it relaxes its restrictions on travel.
Despite barely any recent local cases and an environment virtually free of COVID-19, Hong Kong has imposed mandatory hotel quarantine of up to 21 days for arrivals from most countries at the travellers' cost.
Those who test positive are immediately admitted to hospital regardless of their condition. Since last month they have been required to spend a further 14 days in a designated facility after leaving the hospital.
Hong Kong on Wednesday reported three new imported COVID-19 cases, with one arriving from the US and the other two from the UK, according to health authorities. They tested positive upon arrival at the airport.
A total of 48 COVID-19 cases were reported in Hong Kong in the past 14 days, all of which were imported.